Plans for Beaver Theatre paused
By Chad Ingram
Published Aug. 10, 2017
The redevelopment of the former Beaver Theatre in downtown Minden is on hold, the owner says.
Last week, Rahim Lakhani confirmed to the paper that a project to revitalize the theatre is paused until further developments, but provided few other details.
Operating as a movie theatre for decades, the Beaver Theatre sat unused for years before being reopened for a brief period by the previous owner in 2009. While the plan was for the Water Street building to serve as a movie theatre, live performance venue and arts hub, burst pipes led to a multi-million dollar lawsuit between the previous owner and a number of contractors, which also named the township.
A tax arrears certificate filed by the Township of Minden Hills in May of 2015 shows the previous owner was nearly $13,000 in arrears at that time and land registry documents show Lakhani purchased the property in September of 2016 for just more than $70,000.
Lakhani made a presentation to Minden Hills council last fall and also held meetings with local stakeholder groups.
His vision was for the theatre to function through a not-for-profit community partnership involving Minden Hills township, the community at large and what he was potentially calling the Minden Hills Theatre Not-for-Profit Society, which would be governed by a board of directors.
It would host movie festivals, banquet and conference events, live performances, even college workshops and bingo nights. It would seat between 90 and 110.
The plan also entailed working committees of volunteers to look after various duties.
The four working committees were to include one for events and programming; one for building design, licensing, rehabilitation and maintenance; one for marketing, outreach, membership rewards and fundraising; and one for finance and business development. Time commitments would likely vary between four and 14 hours per week, depending on the committee, Lakhani said at the time.
His goal had been to complete a business plan, get funding, recruit volunteers, do fundraising and collect construction and design bids by February of 2017, to have construction take place between February and May, and to host a red-carpet opening gala before the cottage season started.
So far, it appears no work has been done on the building.
Lakhani, who was to have an engineering assessment done on the theatre, made a number of requests of the township, including the waiving of fees, a reduction of the number of required parking spots for the theatre and a parking agreement with the township.
“This is the cart so far ahead of the horse,” said Reeve Brent Devolin said a December 2016 council meeting. “There’s a lot of water to go under the bridge before I think we’d consider this on any level.”
Devolin said the township needed documentation, including drawings, before councillors would be in any position to make any decisions.
A Twitter account that had been set up for Minden Hills Theatre was last active in February.
During its heyday from the 1950s to the 1990s, the Beaver Theatre was owned and operated by Lou and Molly Conksy, who also owned the Molou Theatre in Haliburton village and a movie theatre in Fenelon Falls.